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Short- and long-term repeatability of docility in the roe deer: sex and age matter

Abstract : Behavioural consistency is a key assumption when evaluating how between-individual differences in behaviour influence life history tactics. Hence, understanding how and why variation in behavioural repeatability occurs is crucial. While analyses of behavioural repeatability are common, few studies of wild populations have investigated variation in repeatability in relation to individual status (e.g. sex, age, condition) and over different timescales. Here, we aimed to fill this gap by assessing within-population variation in the repeatability of docility, as assessed by the individual's response to human handling, in a free-ranging population of European roe deer, Capreolus capreolus. Docility was an equally repeatable behaviour at both short- and long-term timescales, suggesting that this behavioural trait is stable across time. Repeatability did not differ markedly between age and sex categories but tended to be higher in juvenile males than in juvenile females. Finally, contrary to expectation, individual variation in the repeatability of docility was not correlated with individual body mass. Further studies are required to assess the life history consequences of the individual variation in docility we report here.
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Lucie Debeffe, Jean-François Lemaître, Ulrika Alm Bergvall, A.J. Mark Hewison, Jean-Michel Gaillard, et al.. Short- and long-term repeatability of docility in the roe deer: sex and age matter. Animal Behaviour, Elsevier Masson, 2015, 109, pp.53-63. ⟨10.1016/j.anbehav.2015.08.003⟩. ⟨hal-02631313⟩



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